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Securing the Trailer

A reader of this blog writes:

"How do you protect your trailer from theft when you park it in places other than an RV park, i.e. Walmart, or a courtesy park? I often find myself wanting to unhitch our towing vehicle to drive around town, etc. I ordered a Guardian hitch lock, but still feel uncomfortable about leaving our 2005 28' International CCD behind."

That's a good question. We've been lucky enough that most of the time we have been able to park in safe places, but of course that may not always be the case.

When we are outside a state park or RV park, we generally don't unhitch. Definitely not at Wal-Mart -- it's considered bad etiquette since you are only supposed to stay one night, and certainly would be risky. You might also get a ticket that way. For overnight enroute stops we try to arrive around sunset and leave as early as possible.

Courtesy parking is usually safe, but again we don't usually unhitch when we are in a friend's driveway or on the street. If we need to unhitch, we look for a spot that is safe in the sense of having plenty of neighbors around, someone home to watch, or obstacles that would make it difficult to take the trailer. Blocking the trailer in with a car is enough to discourage thieves.

Here at NTAC, the entire complex is gated and the residents are very aware of who comes and goes. Everyone we have talked to has commented on how safe they feel here. So courtesy parking here is an example of one of the better security situations available.

Similarly, when we are in state or national parks, or attending rallies, we consider ourselves to be fairly secure. It's a "safety in numbers" situation.

All of the trailer thefts I hear of are from unattended storage lots. This suggests that best thing you can do to protect your Airstream is to use it a lot! If you must store it off-site between trips, I would definitely look for a gated lot with security and use a good hitch lock (not just a regular padlock that can be easily cut off).

In addition to a hitch lock, consider a set of Rotochoks. These can be padlocked for a bit of additional protection. The trailer won't move with these babies installed!

But having the whole trailer stolen is fairly rare. I think a more practical concern is the contents of your trailer. Most of us travel with a laptop computer or two, plus cameras and other items that would be attractive to a "smash & grab" type of thief.

I have seen many vintage trailers with obvious prybar marks on the door. It's fairly stupid to try to open a vintage Airstream door with a prybar when there are far easier ways of doing it (which I won't mention here), but then whoever said the average thief was smart? If you have a vintage trailer, get a deadbolt installed.

We take several precautions against break-ins. We have a deadbolt and we use it every time we leave the trailer. We also put desirable items in obscure places where they won't be easily found. (Good luck finding my laptop if you break in!) I keep backups of my critical data on a separate hard drive, and I mail home DVD backups periodically. We close the curtains when we are gone. And we often get to know the people around us, so they will notice if someone else comes to mess with our trailer while we are gone.

Scherkenbach .jpg

See what Terry and Mike have done with their trailer? Those are custom vinyl letters, inexpensive and hard to remove. Similarly, our trailer is very distinguishable by its custom vinyl graphics. You might think about adding something to your trailer to make it easier to identify. Yes, such graphics can be removed with a hair dryer, a scraper, and about 30 minutes, but the mere fact of their existence might make a thief more likely to go elsewhere. I'm sure a thief wouldn't want to be towing a "hot" trailer across town with an obvious personalization on it.



We met you when you were in Eugene. When we had to leave our trailer parked in a storage lot in Los Angeles we bought one of these PitBull tire locks:

Not cheap, but cheaper than a new trailer.

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